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Clint Frazier ducks the media. Do you care?

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Clint Frazier had a bad night in right field in the Yankees’ loss to the Red Sox. He let an Eduardo Núñez grounder skip past him. He looked close to lost on a ball that came between him and second baseman D.J. LeMahieu. He got a bad break on an Andrew Benintendi liner to right, tried to dive for it and came up short. He later misplayed a ball off the bat of Michael Chavis, letting it get past him, turning it into a triple as he tried to play it on a bounce.

Fraizer wasn’t the only reason the Yankees lost last night, but he was one of the reasons and, understandably, was someone the press wanted to talk to after the game. Except he didn’t want to talk:

Frazier ducked the media after looking lost in right field in a 8-5 loss to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

After journalists and a few cameramen waited for more than a half-hour for the 24-year-old to emerge from a media-restricted area in the clubhouse, a team spokesman said Frazier “is not talking.”

Anyone who has paid attention to how the baseball media — particularly the New York media — works over the years knows what happened next. A series of tweets, articles and columns about how Frazier’s ducking the media was far, far worse than his misplays. About how he was “unaccountable” and about how he has angered his teammates by making them answer for him. More than one story I read this morning is couched in terms of “what is to be done with Clint Frazier?” with trading him or benching him on the table, as if he hasn’t been a big reason the Yankees have weathered all of their early season injuries. His failure to talk to the press is the far, far, far, far bigger story today than the game. And I could add a few “fars” and link more stories than I just did. Trust me, though, when I say that, among the media, Frazier’s decision not to talk to the media was the story of the night and remains the story this morning.

We’ve covered this ground many times in the past. And I get why this is a story every time it comes up. Among other reasons:

  • The media wants to talk to Frazier. Totally understandable. His play was probably, from the Yankees’ perspective, the takeaway of the game and it makes total sense that the press would like some comments from him. They have a job to do and he is making it harder for them to do it;
  • Players don’t like being asked questions about their own mistakes as it is, so when you’re asked to talk about someone else’s — and you know the press sought comment about Frazier’s play from others — it’s particularly galling. There’s a whole culture of “accountability” at work in clubhouses where people are expected to answer for themselves and when someone doesn’t, others get grumpy.

I have a question, though: do you, as fans, care?

And when I ask that, I mean beyond the sense of “well, if his teammates are mad at him it might cause trouble down the line.” Let’s leave that as granted, and watch in the future if Frazier becomes a problem (and allow for the possibility that they do not care and it does not become a problem). I also don’t count “well, now that the media is mad it’s a distraction” talk because that itself is a media-driven thing/self-fulfilling prophecy. What I want to know is if you care that Frazier ducked the press last night beyond what it means as a potential harbinger of bad things to come or as a media-driven thing.

Specifically, is there anything Frazier could say about those plays that would change them or make then more understandable? He’s a sub-par defender who had a sub-par defensive night. What sort of cliche-driven quotes — and you know that’s what they’d be because that’s what they always are — would constitute “accountability” for that? How does “had a bad game out there; really let down the ball club; have to get back at it tomorrow and try harder” constitute actual accountability? How does it make him any better of a right fielder?

Similarly, beyond the journalistic convention — you gotta get that quote — is there anything preventing the press from writing about Frazier’s night absent those quotes? What happened was as plain as day. If anything, not having those quotes seems like an opportunity for a good writer more than it seems like a problem. Indeed, sometimes not getting to talk to your subject is a gift. There are conventions that one gets quotes, but there’s no law that says you have to. Indeed, some of the sameness we see in baseball writing goes away when writers are unshackled from convention. That’s particularly the case with some of the New York writers. Those guys are pithy as hell when they freelance a bit. Also worth noting that the whole thing does not become a “distraction” if the press does not continue to ask other players about Frazier’s play on Sunday.

I dunno. I feel like it doesn’t matter all that much in an absolute sense if Frazier or anyone else talks to the press. It’s a ballgame, not astrophysics. The super interesting, expert-level insight tends we get from ballplayers tend to come during those deep-dive features in which a pitcher talks about his philosophy or the life experiences and personality of a player away from the clubhouse gives us insight into his game. The relationships cultivated between reporter and subject which are given some space and time to breathe are way better than the three minutes around the locker after a screwup.

It does give everyone a news cycle’s worth of material, though. But again: that’s for us in the press. Does Frazier not talking after the game matter to you at all?

 

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 13, Pirates 0: The scores of the last five games the Nationals have played: 13-0, 16-8, 15-14, 2-1, 17-7. Which of these doesn’t belong?

Heh, trick question. All but the 2-1 score don’t belong because the rest are football scores that, however fun they may be in isolation, are the products of the sort of breakdown of baseball aesthetics which I ranted about yesterday. I mean, I guess there’s something in every game for everyone, but at some point these conga-line-around-the-base-paths games become dreary as hell, yes?

At least this one had some pitching from one of the teams, as four Washington pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout. But even then it was the equivalent of a bullpen game, with the starter, Joe Ross, only going three and a third innings thanks to being hit with a comebacker. So you didn’t even get the benefit of a traditionally nice starting pitching performance. Oh well. Asdrúbal Cabrera homered and drove in five runs. Adam Eaton, Matt Adams and Trea Turner went deep for the Nats as well. Juan Soto reached base five times. Someone missed an extra point along the way. Whatever. These are kinda fun games when they’re rare, but when they happen every night you can have ’em.

Royals 5, Orioles 4: Nicky Lopez and Nick Dini hit back-to-back homers on consecutive pitches in the seventh inning to turn a one-run game into a three-run game. By virtue of a late O’s comeback that fell short, those dingers proved to be essential game-winners. Guess you could say they hit those . . . in the nick of time?

[Ed: You could say that, but I’d really prefer you didn’t]

Who’s that talking?

[Ed: It’s me, your editor]

But I don’t have an editor. I thought that was fairly obvious.

[Ed: Just go back to recapping, Craig]

Um . . . OK. That’s eight straight losses for the Orioles. We need a ten-game series between them and the Pirates right now.

Mariners 9, Rays 3: The M’s jumped all over Brendan McKay, scoring seven off of him — though only three earned — in the first two innings. After the game he was optioned back to Durham, so no, not a great night for the kid. He’ll be back, though. He’s too talented not to be. Tom Murphy homered twice and drove in four for Seattle and Austin Nola also went deep and drove in three.

Padres 3, Reds 2: The starting pitching matchup was Trevor Bauer vs. Eric Lauer — Bauer vs. Lauer! — so that’s fun. Neither pitched poorly — Bauer bounced back from his nightmare start against the Nats last week, allowing three over seven and striking out 11 — but Bauer took the loss. Lauer allowed only one run over four and the Pads bullpen only surrendered one more over five. Francisco Mejía homered for San Diego. Manny Machado had an RBI single, which makes him 10-for-15 in his career off Bauer with four homers, two doubles and six RBI. He owns Bauer so thoroughly that he’ll have to give permission to whatever team tries to sign him when he hits free agency after next season. The Reds mounted a ninth inning rally against Kirby Yates, loading the bases and getting three hits, but he got out of it having allowed only one run to cross the plate.

Cardinals 3, Brewers 0: Dakota Hudson took a no-hitter into the seventh but was lifted when he reached 111 pitches and started to get into some trouble. The Cardinals bullpen carried the no-no on into the eighth, but Yasmani Grandal broke it up with a double. It happens. Still, St. Louis got the shutout — a one-hitter — and that’s pretty sweet. Paul DeJong homered for the Cards, who have won eight of ten and hold a half game lead over Chicago.

Rangers 8, Angels 7: The Angels held a 7-1 lead after two innings but would not score again. A Rougned Odor RBI single in the eighth tied things up and forced extras and then Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a chopper that turned into a walkoff infield single, scoring Jose Trevino for the win. Trevino homered earlier. Hunter Pence had three hits and reached base five times. Shohei Ohtani had a big night for L.A. in a losing cause, hitting an RBI triple, reaching base four times and scoring twice.

Astros 5, Tigers 4: Yuli Gurriel had two hits and drove in two as the Astros jumped out to an early lead and then held on despite allowing scads of Tiger baserunners. Fourteen hits for Detroit, in fact. Like strikes in bowling, however, bunching hits up is sometimes more important than the number you have.

White Sox 6, Twins 4: José Abreu hit a three-run homer in the Sox’ four-run third inning while Ivan Nova allowed only two runs over six despite giving up ten hits. Apart from that homer, Kyle Gibson pitched well for the Twins. Let’s check in on both starters’ assessments of their nights. First Gibson:

“In this case, I picked the wrong time to not execute a pitch. When I look back at how many pitches I executed and where my stuff was, it’s one of those weird nights where I felt like I threw the ball pretty well and unfortunately got beat by the wrong guy at the wrong time.”

Now Nova:

“This was one of the best games I pitched the whole year. Guys might say, `Why?’ The way that I was throwing the first two innings it felt like I didn’t have my best stuff. I was able to get to the sixth and only give up two runs. They got 10 hits, and to be able to keep them to two runs with a lineup like this it’s a lot of hard work.”

Baseball be like that sometimes.

Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 3: Carson Kelly — which sounds more like the name of a Pac-10 quarterback than a big league catcher, but we’ll let that go for now — hit a tie-breaking homer in the eighth inning which was followed by a two-run triple by David Peralta to help the Snakes rally for three and the win. Kelly now has 18 homers on the season. Seven INTs, though, and we got what looks to be a trap game against Oregon State next week. Can’t look past them to Oregon or U-Dub, not when you’re playing in Corvallis. These conference games all matter, Jim. There are no patsies.

[Ed: Who’s Jim? And are you feeling OK?]

God, it’s nice not to have an editor.